Let’s go back in history again as we bake our way through American History with American Cake by Anne Byrn. We started all the way back in the 1600s and now I’m going through to talk about some of the fun historical facts for each time period and then share one example cake. This time we’re talking about 1900-1916 and the Lazy Daisy Cake!
At the turn of the century, American cakes were about to undergo a significant change with the introduction of the gas stove in 1910. This made baking significantly easier and less time consuming than it had been to bake cakes in wood or coal ovens. The turn of the century also brought new ingredients and influences from the increasing immigrant population. Here are a few fun facts:
- Caramel had been present before this time; however got to be more popular in baking. And, significantly, penuche became popular in the early 1900s – it was similar to a caramel frosting but thicker and fudgier. It was named for the Mexican brown sugar fudge called panocha! (Seriously though, my grandmothers always made penuche fudge – it’s my favorite! And now my mom makes it for me every Christmas!)
- The true American layer cake really had it’s start in this time period – while layer cakes had existed before. This time period brought more intricate and fanciful cakes with rich fillings and lots of fluffy frosting! (See the Lady Baltimore Cake…).
- Chocolate was also getting increasingly popular in American baking and rich fudge cakes and devil’s food cakes were introduced in this time period.
- The introduction of shortening was also significant – not only did it present a viable substitute for lard and butter that appealed to vegetarians – but it was one of the first major instances where food chemists drove the direction of baking rather than home or professional bakers.
- This was also the time period of the growing popularity of a “white wedding cake” – a status symbol as it was not a cheap cake to make!
So those are some fun cake facts from the early 1900s… but now let’s move on to the Lazy Daisy Cake. This cake was truly delicious!
Lazy Daisy Cake
The Lazy Daisy Cake originated in the early 1900s and was published in 1914 in the Chicago Sunday Tribune as a submission from a woman in Waterloo, Iowa. The phrase “lazy daisy” came about in turn of the century poetry and referenced the “fresh, carefree feeling of June.” This cake epitomized how cake baking was becoming easier and more manageable with simple recipes and the gas oven – and of course the name recognized that easy, carefree attitude. It was also published and circulated in an add for Snowdrift shortening (although this recipe uses butter). Here’s how it goes…
First, you cream the butter and sugar together (note, in even simple versions of the recipe, this step may not have been included in favor of easier methods).
Then you add in the eggs and beat well to fluff up!
Then you alternate the dry ingredient mixture (flour, baking powder and salt) with the buttermilk and vanilla (some recipes just use milk rather than buttermilk).
Again, beat well to make a fluffy batter (you want to add lots of air into the batter!)
You pour into a 9×13 pan and bake! While the cake is baking, you start on the topping!
First you melt the butter!
Then you stir in the brown sugar and cream. let the mixture come to a boil and boil for 2 minutes and thickens slightly.
After it boils, take it off the heat and add in the coconut, vanilla and salt.
Then you spread the topping on top of the warm cake and place under the broiler!
After it turns golden brown on top, you let it rest before serving! (Note: mine could have been a bit more golden brown but my broiler is a bit odd making it hard to get the full cake golden!)
And serve warm! (if possible! 🙂 It was also good cooled though.
I really enjoyed this cake! And I’m not even a huge coconut person. But the caramelized topping and the moist cake was delicious. And the easy preparation would make it a simple addition to the dessert rotation! (And actually, for those who don’t like the topping, this base cake was so good that you could use it in a variety of recipes!)
So that’s a quick overview of baking in America in 1900-1916! I hope you all try the Lazy Daisy Cake and enjoy!